“God sent him to my house,” said Kathleen Manganello.
“They gave me my wife back,” added her husband, Andrew. “They’re family now.”
Those were the words of a very grateful couple just seconds after a tearful reunion Friday at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, where Kathleen Manganello embraced the police officer credited with saving her life.
It was about 3 a.m. on Dec. 19 when Andrew Manganello, 73, awoke to his wife of 53 years in distress.
“She wasn’t feeling well, had an upset stomach,” he recalled. “I looked at her face and said, I’m calling 911. The operator told me to lay her on the floor, give her chest compressions and I did that.”
She had gone into cardiac arrest.
Within minutes, North Patchogue firefighters — including the couple’s grandson — and another police officer showed up and started administering CPR.
Meanwhile, Officer Arnie Reyes of the Suffolk police’s Medical Crisis Action Team, or MedCAT, was racing to the scene from about 10 miles away. With him was his medical bag with a spring-loaded needle designed to puncture bone and administer life-saving adrenaline to a cardiac patient.
Officer Reyes, joined by the SCPD’s chief surgeon, Dr. Scott Coyne, took the opportunity Friday at Brookhaven Memorial to explain to the media what, exactly, the officer did that morning to save Kathleen Manganello’s life in her home on Rosalie Place.
“It goes right through the bone into the marrow,” Reyes said of the intraosseous injection he administered into her tibia. “There we can introduce the medication and it circulates throughout the body.”
After Reyes administered the injection, she regained a pulse after two cycles of CPR. She was then transported to Brookhaven Memorial where she was cared for and recovered until her release Friday.
Dr. Coyne explained that every police officer is trained as an EMT before graduating from the police academy and joining the Suffolk County Police Department, which introduced the MedCAT team about nine years ago
The MedCAT team trains as a medical SWAT team that can respond and work collaboratively in a crisis, such as an active shooter situation, he said.
He couldn’t say what would have happened to Kathleen Manganello had she suffered a heart attack 10 years ago, before the team was put in place.
“But there wouldn’t have been advanced life support at the scene” he said.
Even the needle Reyes used last month is relatively new in the field. It administers life-saving medicine just as quick as intravenous.
When Reyes was asked how often he’s saved someone’s life in such a manner, he smiled and said, “I don’t want to brag,” explaining that he also volunteers outside of his police work.
“It is our job, and it is a passion that I like to do, and I like to do it because of the outcome, like this,” he said. “It makes it extremely worthwhile.”
But he also emphasized that it was a team of people that saved Kathleen Manganello’s life.
“It was a collaborative effort, from the family members calling 911, to the North Patchogue Fire Department and me responding from a distance away after hearing the call that CPR was in progress,” he said.
And, he added, he and the Manganellos are now “friends for life.”
Or as the Manganellos see it, family.
Photo: Suffolk County Police Department officer Arnie Reyes reunites with Kathleen Manganello for the first time since saving her life last month as she was released from Brookhaven Memorial Hospital on Friday. (Credit: Michael White)